The country is soon going to be having a referendum on whether or not we stay in the European Union.
A referendum is a public vote, but rather than voting for a particular MP, or a party for Government, we are being asked on a specific policy, often with only a binary option - yes or no, stay or leave etc.
The last referendum we had was in 2011, and was for the alternative vote, which would have changed the voting system we use to elect representatives.
This referendum, which will be held on 23rd June is arguably the most important referendum we will be asked to participate in. It will decide the future of Britain's interactions with Europe and the rest of the world. Will we decide maintain a close working relationship with the EU, or will we decide to go it alone and forge our own way forwards?
Both Remain and Leave present arguments of varying conviction, and we have summarised these in a series of articles aimed to help educate you on the European Union.
We cannot stress enough the importance of this vote. I have written about the significance of your vote in nearly every news summary for the last few weeks, and I still don't feel that captures it fully.
Please take some time to go through all of the articles in our EU series, and make your own mind up. These are unbiased, and are there purely to present facts.
Stronger In is the campaign promoting the case that Britain remain in the EU. They argue that we get in more than we get out financially, and in terms of security, job security, and can reform the EU from the inside.
Vote Leave, commonly known as Team Brexit argue that Britain once did well outside the EU, and should be able to again. They resent the money being sent to the EU, throwing around a figure of £350m a day. Brexit believe that leaving the EU will return our national sovereignty, and allow us to negotiate treaties with whoever we want.
History of the EU
The EU only came into existence in 1993, but the foundations of its creation can be traced all the way back to 1952, when post-War France and Germany decided to pool their coal and steel resources. What it developed into was a continental alliance that has promoted peace and intercontinental trade. Find out more about the history of the EU here.
How the EU works
Many of the complaints around the EU involve its undemocratic nature. While there are indeed issue with the EU, some of the complaints are misinformed. That is not necessarily the fault of those stating it though. The EU is complex, and there has been a real failure to communicate what the EU does, and how it works. We have broken down the roles of each institution within the EU, so you can be fully informed of how things are managed. Follow this link to find out more.
Register to vote
Please do take the time to read both sides of the argument, and do some of your own research, and then register to vote. The deadline for this is the 7th June. Doing so only takes five minutes, and you just need your address and NI number if you live in the UK. Voting is a civil liberty that is so often taken for granted, with people dismissing the vote as unfair, or undemocratic. Well this is a referendum, which is incredibly democratic. There are no constituencies, no party politics, no winner bias. It is one person, one vote, two options. Your vote will directly influence the outcome of the referendum, and help decide the future of this country. Please don't waste this opportunity.
You also have to be over 18 - sorry!
Photo by Rain Rabbit